By Tyler Allen Explore Big Sky Associate Editor
Montana bull riding got even bigger in 2013.
In its third year, Big Sky's Professional Bull Riding event was named the PBR Touring Pro Division Event of the Year at the World Finals in Las Vegas, Nev., on Oct. 24.
The idea hatched in Vegas was this year recognized in that same arena by the riders as the best in the country.
"My first PBR event was over 10 years ago in Las Vegas," said Eric Ladd, CEO of Outlaw Partners, a sponsor of the Big Sky PBR (and publisher of Explore Big Sky). "I was so inspired after seeing the show and thought, 'Wow, I'd really like to bring this to Big Sky.'"
Jacey and Andy Watson of Freestone Productions, PBR entertainer Flint Rasmussen and announcer Brandon Bates - both of whom work the World Finals and Big Sky show - were on the dusty floor of the Thomas & Mack Center pulling for the team.
"To have the riders vote the Big Sky PBR as the Touring Pro Event of the Year is a great honor," said PBR CEO Jim Haworth, who witnessed the Montana production first-hand this summer. "It means that out of the 120 events on the tour, this is quickly becoming the [Touring Pro Division event] to attend on every riders' list."
The two-day event held in the Big Sky Town Center on July 31 and Aug. 1 included free concerts each night after the bulls finished bucking. The all-female AC/DC cover band Hell's Belles ripped searing chords on night one to the delight of the crowd, and Bozeman-based outlaw country outfit The Dirty Shame treated revelers to a rocking show night two, during a mid-summer lightning storm.
"I think this is a proud moment for the town of Big Sky," said Jim Murphy, owner of Continental Construction, and a presenting sponsor along with Ladd. "Big Sky already has the best skiing in North America, now they also have the best PBR Touring Pro Event."